Chapter 2 Sources and Characteristics of Wastes

Author First name, Last name, Institution

Abdel-Mohsen Onsy Mohamed
Evan K. Paleologos

Document Type

Book Chapter

Source of Publication

Fundamentals of Geoenvironmental Engineering

Publication Date



The technological, industrial, agricultural, and medical discoveries of the 20th century and their massive application to daily life products have created a historically unprecedented economic prosperity to large segments of the human population. The negative by-product of all modern economic activities is the generation of huge volumes of waste. Fertilizers and pesticides that helped trigger the agricultural revolution and the steady supply of food to societies, at the same time have become responsible for the significant deterioration of the environment. Extraction of natural resources, industrial processing, and utilization of those resources have led to serious environmental pollution problems in all phases of their economic life. Thus rock materials, for housing purposes; metals, on which many of our daily products are based on; and petroleum products, which span a wide range of products, from toothpaste to clothing to gasoline have generated, during processing and disposal, pollution problems to air, soil, and water. The magnitude of these problems, be it the ever-increasing volume of waste, or the effect on ecosystems and human health surpasses the scientific and technological capabilities of current societies. The current chapter provides an overview of the economic activities and processes that constitute the main sources of waste, as well as the characteristics of the generated waste. This will set the stage for the subsequent chapter where the existing regulations and their proposed amendments will be discussed in order to put into perspective the environmental regulatory trends and the attempts in several countries to reach a stage, where economic development can coexist with the protection of the environment.




Environmental Engineering

Indexed in Scopus


Open Access